Dear lord, Jaylen Brown is unwell in the best possible way. Every neuron in his big smart brain must have been hollering at him not to do what he did. Joel Embiid made opponents shoot 12 percent worse at the rim last season. He has made a living by—among many other things—scaring opponents out of exactly this kind of madcap attack. And there the dude was, all seven feet and 250 pounds of him positioned calmly, hands straight up, ready to erect a wall. Joel Embiid did not put himself in position to be humiliated.
But then, the Celtics had apparently built themselves a little minigame within Tuesday’s game—humiliate Embiid at every possible opportunity, however small. Al Horford and even a flying little Terry Rozier got their spike blocks in. Tatum went at Embiid in isolation and banked in a fadeaway to transmute a frankly stunning perimeter defensive highlight into something that could be recognizably termed an “own.” Brown was just doing his part when he hurled himself off the earth to yam home this ... partially blocked poster layup(?) that somehow also flung Embiid down to the hardwood.
“This is not a rivalry,” Embiid said after the Celtics won, 105-87. “I don’t know our record against them. But it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass. So this is not a rivalry.” Who is living rent-free in whose head, again?